Construction crews are continuing work this summer on the $109-million first phase of an eastside ring road project in Red Deer that will ultimately be complete in about 30 years.
People may notice the work being done for the North Highway Connector road within the Riverside industrial area itself.
This eventual six-lane expressway will align Hwy 11A, Northland Drive, 20th Avenue and McKenzie Road.
Since last summer, crews have been removing pockets of trees in the park to the north of 78th Street Crescent as well as to the east of the Red Deer River within the flood plain and escarpment areas.
Other Phase 1 work includes embankment grading from Hwy 11A and Gaetz Avenue easterly to the intersection of 30th Avenue and Northland Drive, just south of River Bend Golf Course, major utility installations and the building of a wildlife crossing structure.
It’s expected that all of Phase 1 will be done by this fall.
Ken Haslop, major projects engineer for the city, said the city is dealing with three contracts concerning the first phase.
The first contract, worth about $15 million, is about 90 per cent done within a section between Gaetz Avenue and the Red Deer River.
It involves grading and major utility servicing on the west side of the river.
The second contract, worth about $40 million, is about 50 per cent complete and involves a section between Red Deer River and east to 30th Avenue. The work is opposite of the wastewater treatment plant and just north of the civic yards.
Crews are doing grading, utility servicing as well as a wildlife crossing structure within this contract.
“We’re doing the cuts and fills along the escarpment and preparing for the river abutments crossing the Red Deer River,” said Haslop.
The bridge abutments on the east side are nearly finished, while the work on the west side hasn’t started yet.
Also included in this second contract is the construction of a stormwater treatment pond. It will eventually service the greater East Hill recreational area, Haslop said.
The wildlife crossing will pass underneath the future Northland Drive.
Haslop said that deer, moose and smaller animals like coyotes will be able to travel along this crossing, likely at nightfall, while during the day, this crossing will be used by pedestrians.
A third contract for later this fall will see the building of a regional sanitary trunk line on the east side of the river. The City of Red Deer is responsible for the construction of the portion between the Red Deer River and 30th Avenue. This cost amounts to an estimated $18 million.
The remaining $36 million would go towards land acquisition, relocation of major utilities, permit applications, and engineering fees from consultants.
Money might also go towards any environmental damage, such as if fish habitat is disturbed, said Haslop.
Some people may have seen work north of Delburne Road, on the west side of the future 20th Avenue. This involves work being done by a land developer and isn’t connected to the North Highway Connector project, Haslop said.
In fact, 20th Avenue isn’t slated to get done for another eight to 10 years.
Haslop said people will see road construction for the bridge in 2017 and be completed a year later.
“There will phases over the next 30 years before it gets to the six-lane expressway standard,” he said.
Work between Gaetz Avenue and 30th Avenue will be done first where a two-lane road will get built. Then some portions of 20th Avenue will then get built to two lanes, and then once the population gets big enough, this will be upgraded to four lanes and eventually six, said Haslop.